As Christians, we are to avoid sin – but how can we avoid sin if we don’t fully comprehend what it is? An easy way to think of sin is the concept of “missing the mark.” If a sports player aims for a goal and misses, how many points does he get? None. They missed the goal and missed the mark at which he or she was aiming. Sin is going in one direction but straying off course to the side and not continuing in the direction we intended to go, with the result that we don’t get the goal that we intended. When it comes to sin and the church, sometimes the big sins, the ones we try hardest to avoid aren’t the greatest threat to our personal joy or our church’s mission. It may be the sin that is just underneath the surface, the ones we consider acceptable, that are sabotaging our mission. These often go undetected, but have a bigger impact on the church than we even know. Here are six sins that you need to pay attention to.
This is one of the most popular weapons that the enemy uses against us. Worry, anxiety and fear can overwhelm us with a thick shadow of darkness, controlling our every move and decision. The Bible tells us, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10). While there are countless verses that remind us that with God, we don’t have to fear, we Christians tend to be fearful, a lot. We’re constantly afraid to make decisions, or to step into dangerous situations because we are scared of the outcome. This is not what God intended for the church. The love of God and our faith in God should cast out all fear.
Our church culture loves comfort. Who doesn’t like things to stay the way that we like them? Who really wants to be forced out of their comfort zone? But we can’t disciple to others when we’re hooked on being comfortable. Too many people in the church turn comfort into an idol. When this happens, it is so easy for small differences of opinion on insignificant matters to cause people to fight and things to breakdown.
As Christians, we are chronic worriers. We are often convinced that we can handle everything on our own, which gives us a false sense that we are in control, when only God is in control. The Bible tells us, “Cast all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). Our Heavenly Father doesn’t call us to carry this heavy burden. God takes cares of us.
When speaking to His disciples, Jesus gave us two reasons why we should not worry. First, He says that we should not worry because of who we are. “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet Your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26). If He takes care of the birds, will He not take care of us? Jesus is ultimately telling us that when we worry, we diminish our value. Next, we should not worry because it gets us nowhere. “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:27). Worrying is like putting on the brakes and stepping on the gas simultaneously when the reality is, it might diminish it.
We often associate gluttony with weight and food about it is so much bigger than just that. Gluttony is truly a condition of the heart. When we are gluttonous, we try to find everything we can to fill the void that God is supposed to fulfill. This takes our focus away from Jesus, the One we truly need.
We Christians often fall into the trap of taking God’s love for granted. Because of this, we lose the passion we once had regarding our relationship with God and we begin to take His love for granted. Spiritual apathy, coldness or indifference can affect even the most sincere Christian. Sometimes these feelings can replace the fervor we once felt for the things of God. If we lack this passion when it comes to our own personal relationship with God, how can we expect to enroll others into having a relationship with God? One major cause of spiritual apathy is sin in a believer’s life. When David sinned, he felt disconnected from God (Psalm 51:11). As he confessed his sin to God, David prayed for God to “renew a steadfast spirit” within him and requested, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me” (Psalm 51:12). A believer who feels spiritually apathetic should confess any known sin and ask for God’s cleansing and renewal.
Too often we think that lying is acceptable as long as nobody knows that we committed the lie. The more we lie, the less weight we think these lies hold. But God desires more for us because He cares for us. Lying isn’t ok, even if we think we won’t get caught. As Christians, we are set apart by our love and commitment to Christ. We are called to live up to a higher standard.
What makes these six sins so detrimental is the fact that so many of us don’t even realize we’re committing them or believe these sins don’t carry the same power of other sins. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. These sins sabotage our ability to disciple to others. The definitions of sin in the Bible are not simply arbitrary does and don’ts. Instead, they show us the spiritual principles by which God lives, the same standard of conduct He expects us to live by. Christ’s teachings help us understand why it is a sin not to do what we know we should do. It really comes down to whose will is most important in the lives of those in the church: Is it our will, doing what we want to do? Or is it God’s will, doing what He thinks is most important? God’s will should always come first.